Elke Dangeleit for Heise
Turkey’s escalation in the Middle East
Most recently, there have been increasing signs of another Turkish military operation in Northern Syria and Northern Iraq. The NATO army invaded northern Iraq on Easter weekend. Turkey is utilising the war in Ukraine to fight the Kurds.
Last autumn, Ankara tried a new offensive on the east of the Euphrates river, but neither Russia nor the USA gave a green light for this operation. Apparently Turkey has planned a new offensive in the shade of the war in Ukraine.
At the beginning of April, a Turkish drone attack targeted the vehicle of the beloved Kurdish poet, Farhad Marde in Northeastern Syria.
One person died and two more were injured, including the poet. The next day there were more drone strikes, in which an Assyrian Christian and a member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were heavily injured. Meanwhile in addition to the Syrian Democratic Forces, civilians, including women and children, are dying nearly everyday as a result of Turkish drone and artillery attacks.
“The Turkish military seems to be intensifying their attacks on the minority groups in Syria. Because of the war in Ukraine, the Russian army allows the Turkish president to do what he wants. In the meantime, NATO is especially dependent on Turkey.” explains Kamal Sido, a Middle East expert for the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV).
“The German government and NATO have yet to say a word, let alone criticise the ongoing attacks on the ethnic and religious minorities of Syria, which violate international law. Doing this, they are gambling away all their credibility in the region.” The Middle East expert said on the deafening silence of the German Government.
In the last two years, hundreds of people have been targeted, murdered or injured by Turkish drone strikes. Beside the Kurdish population, there are also Christians, Yazidis, Alawis and other minority groups, says Kamal Sido. Turkey has recently intensified their attacks on Kurdish settlements in Ain Issa and Til Emir along the strategically important M4 highway, as well as Manbij and Aleppo. At the beginning of April, a leader of the Christian Assyrian Military Council was injured by a Turkish Drone strike. Also on 3 and 4 April, there were drone attacks targeting the North Syrian villages Til Temir and Zirgan. On 7 April, 5 civilians, 3 of whom were children, were injured in the El Esedy village.
Kurdish sources of the region reported on Turkish troops moving along the Syrian and Iraqi border. On 3 April, a military convoy consisting of 90 vehicles crossed the border from Idlib and drove to the Turkish cross-border post in al-Mastuma and on to the Taftanaz Air force base.
Turkey copies the war against the civilians just like Russia. Just as in Ukraine, Russia bombarded hospitals, bakeries and schools in Aleppo. The infamous wagner troops are also said to be deployed.
The newspaper Die Welt points out the similarities: “Ankara builds itself a mercenary army from the extreme radical Islamist rebellion in Syria. With their help, Turkey leads three different invasions in Northern Syria, violating human rights. After the last offensive in 2019, Amnesty International wrote that these Syrian mercenaries ‘committed serious offences and war crimes’. These offences includes attacks on residential areas, bakeries and schools.’’
In an essay published during the pandemic, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov said that Russia and Turkey are the dominating states of international politics, as they are ready to use violence for their interests. This can be interpreted as, Germany, EU and NATO will stay silent on war crimes committed by these countries as long as it suits their interests. Otherwise the Turkish drone attacks in Northern Syria against civilians would never take place.